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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 03-31-2011, 10:49 PM
ltwfcusa ltwfcusa is offline
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Location: St Louis
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 1994 325I E36
Smoke valve cover oil fill cap and inside cabin vents burning smell odor exhaust?

My first post should save many e36 owners a lot of trouble and time. My E36 appeared to have smoke leaking from the rear of the valve cover near the firewall. I changed the valve cover seal, spark plugs, pcv valve kit and the boot. None of the work I did fixed the problem of the smoke blowing into the air vents and stinking me out of my first used black BMW. After I did all the work and the smoke still appeared in the same location. WTH!!! Problem solved thanks to me going about everything the hard way for you in advance.

Some other people call this smoke blow-by or blowby.

Start your engine from cold wait till your smoke appears like it's pouring out of the valve cover. Then take off the oil fill cap and it appears like the leak moved from the valve cover seal to big hole you just made in the valve cover by removing the cap and releasing the pressure. Right? LOL! NO! Read on and try this test.

Now cover and seal the oil filler cap seat hole for the oil fill cap with your hand. Test the temp first to make sure you don't burn yourself.

Where did all that nasty smoke smell go? What the fish? The smoke disappeared into thin air?


Sorry I'm laughing at myself for doing a lot of extra work.

The aluminum valve cover seat ring is pitted so the rubber gasket on the oil fill cap can't work properly. The cheapest fix sounds a little crazy but works great! Coat inside the filler cap lip, both sides of washer and the cap valve seat with valve cover sealant. Put the cap on with sealant wet still. Then wipe a ring of sealant around the gap between the valve cover seat and the oil filler cap. Wait for the full cure time for the sealant and your done.

Use your dipstick tube to fill the engine with oil for now on when you do oil changes. Just buy a funnel that has a small output filler hole.

TIP: Clean all surfaces completely before applying the sealant.

Some people think there is an oil leak and that may be but if my test works you don't have an oil leak you have a leaking valve cover oil filler cap seat or a bad seal washer inside your filler cap.

Please reply with comments

Last edited by ltwfcusa; 03-31-2011 at 11:06 PM. Reason: Vents in title and english
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:04 AM
hornhospital's Avatar
hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Mein Auto: E24x2,E36x1,E30x1, F150
You could just by a new oil filler cap for $15.
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Old 04-01-2011, 05:59 PM
ltwfcusa ltwfcusa is offline
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Location: St Louis
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 1994 325I E36
New cap would not fix issue

The cover is pitted
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